Sunday, December 18, 2016

Usapang "TORTOL" (Turtle Talks) 2016


"It's all about me and turtles. 
This will be updated as stories will unfold from time to time"

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-my pagnapagna-
(November 2016 to date)

My Day at CURMA
The Workshop
(November 12, 2016 a Saturday)
With some of the artists from AGLAUN (Artists Guild of La Union) namely Jp, Lulu, Rene, Cesar and Rodel, we attended a "Pawikan Guardian Workshop" at a seaside house in barangay Ili Norte, San Juan, La Union.
The workshop was jointly done by CURMA and SIFCare.
At the workshop we were briefed about the different species of sea turtles, how to see their tracks on the sands and find their nests to be properly relocated in the hatchery.

CURMA - Coastal Underwater Resources Management Actions (Pawikan Conservation and Protection Program)
-A public-private partnership of the Municipality of San Juan, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Tourism (DOT), HOLCIM, and the Science of Identity Foundation.
SIFcare - Science of Identity Foundation Community Assistance for Responsible Existence.

1st Patrol
(Initial and introductory with CURMA)
(November 13, 2016 a Sunday)
Cesar came to pick us up with his multicab as we went to the same place where we had the workshop earlier. Just in time for the early morning 3 o'clock beach patrol. Our very first hands-on pawikan patrol along the coast of San Juan, La Union.
At the same place where we had our "Pawikan patrol workshop", the group was divided into two where one group will patrol going towards north while we went towards south. "Patrick" led our group holding a plastic pail and a poking stick and of course we were all with a flashlight.
Our walk along the beach lasted around an hour and unfortunately no turtle tracks.
We went back to their safehouse (office) and had a meeting.
Burger was served and it was a sort of a "SIFcare burger" because no meat was used, instead mongo beans was its main ingredient for the patties and it tasted good (or was I just hungry from patrolling? No! it really tasted good).
They got some testimonies from our fellow "attendees" and they let us fill up a form asking what can we contribute.... I checked on patrolling (at least once a week) and I think I also did checked on the beach clean-up.

Now to live up with what I had promised or checked on their list and it's what I love to do. The patrolling continued!

2nd Pawikan Patrol
(November 16, 2016 a Wednesday)
Woke up early to ride the big bus and paid the minimum fair. The bus was bound for Abra.
I alighted at San Juan town proper and went to the seaside.
After more than an hour of walking along the seashore,
unfortunately, no turtle tracks that day.

3rd Pawikan Patrol
(November 23, 2016 a Wednesday)
No Turtle tracks that day

4th Pawikan Patrol
(November 30, 2016 a Wednesday)
No Turtle tracks that day

5th Pawikan Patrol
(December 7, 2016 a Wednesday)
No Turtle tracks that day

Checking it out! The hatchery.
(December 8, 2016 a Thursday)

6th Pawikan Patrol
(December 14, 2016 a Wednesday)
No Turtle tracks that day

Turtle Carapace for Sale!
(December 15, 2016 a Thursday)
In the afternoon, I decided to drop-by at at the "Market Fair" being held at the plaza. Meticulously going to each stalls to see what were on sale (even without money just to feast my eyes). At one of the stalls I saw what looked like turtle carapaces for sale along with some bags. I went closer to see if it was real and not a paper mache or carved wood. I turned it around and saw what looked like a backbone with ribs attached to the carapace. I said to myself, Oh wow this is a real skeleton of a turtle. It was like a large crab where the flesh was all taken out.
I continued walking and immediately went home.
Turtles were very elusive to me and i finally see them but unfortunately... carapaces.
I went back to the "Market Fair" with a camera and took some photographs and a video of it. One of the vendors said "adda pay dita ni" (There is one more there) pointing to a smaller carapace hanged on the wall and below it was the horn of a carabao.
Afterwards, I went back home and uploaded to facebook a picture of the carapaces.

The following day, the carapaces were confiscated.
And the rest was history...

Look! I found a turtle.
(December 18, 2016 a Sunday)
At home,  I found this turtle crafted from coconut shell.

7th Pawikan Patrol
(December 19, 2016 a Monday)
At San Fernando City, La Union I was waiting for the big bus when I found out that I left my cellular phone back at home. I was contemplating of going back or just go on.
I chose to go on (baka malampasan ng bus pag bumalik pa at sayang ang oras).So I rode "partas bus" and paid the minimum fare of 55 pesos. I alighted from the bus at San Juan town proper and walked my way to the seaside (around 3 o'clock in the morning).
At the seaside, around maybe 30 meters away towards north, I thought I saw someone with a faint flashlight. I stood still and the light that I thought I saw never flashed on again.
A few minutes later, I started walking towards south to patrol. The shore was quite plain (as it was caressed by the waves when it was high tide) with almost no wavy humps made except for some footprints that must have came earlier before me and with it was a footprint of a dog. I always see this dog footprint when I patrol.
After some 30 minutes of walking, what an awesomeness!
In front of me was a track. I can't believe my eyes. It is really a turtle track and it's a big one.
Now what to do?!
I took photographs and videos of it while waiting of something I do not know, I do not know what to do. I do not have my cellphone to contact CURMA which was about a kilometer away from where I was then. Now that was a very silly thing to do, not having a cellphone.
While looking at the nest, I saw what it seemed to be an imprint of a bottom of a pail just beside it (north side). In my mind i said, somebody must have been here earlier. Then at a hole on the sand of the nest a small crab came out and seen holes at the South side of the nest (later on found out that those were made by a poking stick of someone probing the sand). 
I carefully removed the sand above the nest but to my dismay the eggshell came out broken as if it was a squeezed lemon. I did not not dug further and just put back the shallow sand covering it.
Can those crab be pinching those eggs inside?
I needed Help! I went to the nearby resorts but no one answered to my call. I went back to the nest and just settled to guard it till someone passes by. 
I kept on flashing my flashlight towards north where CURMA was. Maybe, someone from CURMA will see my flashing or somebody like an early fisherman.
It took some time until.... there was hope. A pint of relief, somebody answered and flashed his flashlight back towards me from maybe 1.5 to 2 kilometers away.
After a lengthy wait, finally he was near and I approached him and told him the sad news. 

He was sir "Patrick" from CURMA.
We went to see the nest and felt sad as he dug out more broken eggs. I really felt sad and a little kind of blaming myself of what had happened, I don't know.
All in all there were around 20 broken eggs found and no other else.
He got all what remains of the "catastrophe" and put it inside the pail.

After "clearing" the area, we went down farther south and seen another "abandoned" nest with shorter track distance from the shore.

I learned a lot from sir "Patrick" that morning and even talked about the upcoming mega-hotel rising in the vicinity.

We parted ways somewhere along our way back.

Happy and sad, mixed emotions as I rode a jeep bound for Home Sweet Home.

8th Pawikan Patrol
(December 21, 2016 a Wednesday)
Early morning at San Juan, La Union. I went to the seaside and went on patrolling for pawikan's (sea turtles) nests. but unfortunately did not found any.
I've seen a tent by the dark seashore at the southern part of the San Juan's shoreline.
Kept on walking towards north and since it was still early, I continued patrolling even at Baroro, Bacnotan, La Union.
At the beach of Baroro, as I was walking, I happened to see a tall man coming towards my direction. He passed me by and we did not talked or glanced at each other and our flashlights were turned off. I noticed that he was with two small furry dogs on leash. In my mind, I was wondering why would he be walking his dog very early in the morning and at that very dark seashore.
After some 10 minutes or more he was now returning and I stopped and stood still as if just resting to let him passed me by. 
As he got near to where I was, he also stopped and asked if I was with ________ (insert name) which I do not know someone by that name. Then he said the magic word "CURMA". That's the time I came to know that he was also patrolling the area.
He was "Marte" who was patrolling that area of Barangay Baroro of the municipality of Bacnotan for around five years now. He added that he patrols only that area and not the northern part of Baroro where the fishermen mostly live because they might mistake him for a thief.
We talked a lot and I was even amazed of how he seems to know the sea turtles who come to nest in that area. He told me that he was waiting for a particular turtle who will be coming to nest (then points to a particular area of the beach) (whoa talking about turtle patrolling).
We went to see his hatchery which he has one nest in it.

With sir MARTE in Bacnotan, La union

After 15 to 30 minutes, I left as dawn was coming.
No turtle nest that day but I made a new friend along the way.

9th Pawikan Patrol
(December 28, 2016 a Wednesday)
I made it very early at the beach of San Juan, La Union and noticed that the sands were very wet. It must have rained just that night.
As I was patrolling along the shore, I felt the wind blew slightly warm air from the sea.
The seashores were also transformed that sand seemed to have been pushed up by the wave and at the northern shores a small cliff was formed wherein no turtles can climb up.
As I was patrolling, in front of "Awesome Hotel", along the beach just above the small cliff formed by the waves, I saw teenagers drinking.
"Kuya, ag shot tayo pay" (Sir, let's have a shot), one of them said as I passed by.
I answered back, "Sige lang" (Just go on).
I did not went farther to Baroro, Bacnotan as I knew "Marte" will be there patrolling.
I called it patrolling done and went home for a short morning sleep.

-pagnapagna will be continued-


Subject: CURMA
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Subject: SIFcare
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